By Denise Lavoie, AP Legal Affairs Writer

BOSTON (AP) — A judge has told lawyers for victims of a deadly national meningitis outbreak tied to a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy that she will likely grant their request for an exhaustive inspection and testing at the facility.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal said Thursday she expects to issue an order allowing lawyers for people suing New England Compounding Center in Framingham access for their inspection.

The plaintiffs allege they contracted fungal meningitis from contaminated steroid injections made by NECC. Health officials say 36 people have died and more than 500 others have been sickened.

An NECC lawyer asked the judge to wait to decide on an inspection until a judicial panel rules on whether the 12 lawsuits in Massachusetts and others around the country will be heard by a single court.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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